Governor McKee’s FY 2025 budget proposal, Rhode Island’s housing crisis, and RIPEC’s latest economic briefing highlight this month’s agenda
RIPEC on Public Policy
- RIPEC’s latest report on the mounting fiscal pressures that the state is facing in fiscal year (FY) 2025 and beyond received continued attention following the release of Governor McKee’s FY 2025 budget proposal. RIPEC President & CEO Michael DiBiase spoke to The Public’s Radio about the state’s changing fiscal landscape, saying “we’re going back to the budget situation we had before the pandemic … we’re just going to need to be smarter in our choices.”
- Boston Globe, “Key takeaways from R.I. Governor McKee’s $13.7 billion budget”
- Providence Journal, “Rhode Island’s housing crisis is at a breaking point. How did we get here?”
- WPRO, “Michael DiBiase with Courney Nicolato”
- Rhode Island Current, “13 things to know about McKee’s proposed $13.7 billion FY 2025 budget”
- WJAR, “Medicaid rates expected to be big issue for Rhode Island lawmakers”
- RI News Today, “RIPEC: RI state budget transitions from unprecedented revenues to fiscal restraint”
- In an op-ed on Rhode Island’s housing affordability crisis in the Rhode Island Current, Michael DiBiase wrote that once the General Assembly’s historic use of one-time federal funds has been exhausted, Rhode Island is projected to have produced only 2,340 net new housing units—less than 10 percent of the state’s estimated need. DiBiase called for increased state investment through a permanent revenue source, aggressive land-use reform, subsidies to private developers, and a rental assistance program to help ease the state’s housing burden.
- The Key Performance Indicators Briefing for the fourth quarter of 2023—published by RIPEC in partnership with The Center for Global and Regional Economic Studies at Bryant University—showed that the Ocean State’s economy saw positive results across most key indicators, with gains in Rhode Island-based jobs, employed Rhode Islanders, and net sales tax receipts. Underlying issues remain, however, with the state having recovered only 91 percent of Rhode Island-based jobs lost during the pandemic.
- Providence Business News, “Underlying issues cloud state’s positive economy in Q4, RIPEC says”
- Go Local Prov, “RIPEC Study Claims RI’s Economy Grew In Q4, But Construction Jobs Fell”
- What’s Up Newp, “KPI Briefing for Q4 shows positive signs for Rhode Island’s economy while underlying issues remain”
- In an interview with the Rhode Island Current about the proposed bonds in Governor McKee’s FY 2025 budget, Michael DiBiase remarked that sensible borrowing for capital projects is “an advisable strategy,” because the state can enjoy the benefits of projects without having to wait “20 years to put money in the bank.”
- Christopher Graham and Lisa Ranglin, representing founding members of Rhode Island Businesses for Better Education, published an op-ed in the Boston Globe citing the importance of school attendance in building a competitive workforce. The group, of which RIPEC is a founding member, cited the successful campaigns and data-driven approaches undertaken by Central Falls and Providence to improve their levels of chronic absenteeism.
- The School Finance Indicators Database published a report on the fairness of school finance systems in the fifty states and the District of Columbia. Rhode Island ranked third worst in terms of the funding gap between wealthy and poor districts. The report noted that Central Falls, Pawtucket, Providence, and Woonsocket were in the top 20 percent nationally of underfunded school districts.
- The Bureau of Economic Statistics signaled positive signs for the U.S. economy with GDP rising 3.3 percent (annual rate) in the fourth quarter of 2023 after third quarter growth of 4.9 percent. This growth is on the heels of strong jobs numbers in January, with total nonfarm employment rising by 353,000 jobs. These figures, along with declining inflation, have eased recession fears among some economists.
- The Rhode Island Association of Realtors released its year-end summary of Rhode Island’s housing market, indicating sales were down 22.5 percent year over year. Home prices, however, have continued to climb, with the median price up to $425,000, a six percent increase over 2022.
What to Look for in January
- The Special Legislative Commission to Study Housing Affordability will meet on February 15th. Secretary of Housing Stefan Pryor will present the department’s FY 2025 budget request and provide an update on the state’s housing plan.
- The Senate and House Finance Committees began to conduct hearings on the governor’s FY 2025 budget proposal during the first week of February. The House Committee on Finance will meet on February 13th to discuss Governor McKee’s $60 million proposed bond referendum for the construction of a new state archives and history center.